Emmanuel Adebayor will always be a divisive figure, and a lot of that hostility seems to be rooted in assumption rather than reality.
The Evening Standard published an article this week – apologies, I forget the writer – essentially damning his recent performances for Tottenham and implying that they were a product of his apathy. Ironically, that in itself is a very lazy opinion to give.
A lot of the negativity towards Adebayor arose from his move to Manchester City from Arsenal, and that’s really when he was tagged with the mercenary label. From that moment on, he’s been cast as a footballing cartoon villain with insatiable money-lust and no semblance of loyalty.
Adebayor is a convenient projection of the dislike many fans harbour for the modern game.
Think about the stories which a printed in relation to him: the long-standing allegation that he retired from international football because for financial reasons – abandoned after the revelation that he was personally involved with the payment of the squad’s bonuses, or the ‘AWOL’ rumours that arose from his late return from the Africa Cup of Nations – clarified this morning in The Sun as a failure on the part of his national federation to provide adequate transport.
These tales perpetuate the myth around a player who we know very little about, yet whom we seem determined to cast to play a certain role in the game. They’re all classic Adebayor stories, featuring the usual list of assumptions about his character.
“Oh yeah, that sounds like Adebayor.”
Quite obviously, he’s not an innocent party in this and to a certain extent he’s helped create this situation for himself; his celebration in front of the Arsenal fans at the, then, City of Manchester Stadium, his laissez-faire body language during games, and his lack of obvious passion for the game. It’s true, he probably doesn’t love the game as much as the fans in the stands, but that’s true of a lot of players in the modern era.
There’s no intention here to convey Emmanuel Adebayor as a victim, because that would be excessive, but it is important to recognise the difference in our treatment of him in relation to that of other players.
Remember the reaction to him joining City? Well, where are the ‘mercenary’ accusations at Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, Gareth Barry, and James Milner – regardless of what you believe their motivation to have been in joining Manchester City, their decision-making processes would all have been very similar to Adebayor’s. The Togalese was at least joining the club at a time when he would have rightly expected to be a fixture in the first-team, and that’s not true of everyone on that list.
The hatred for him seem to be borne as much out of convenience as anything else, and that seems rather unfair – at least in the sense that the collective dislike aimed at him is so comparatively acute.